If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

June Interviews

6/3 Gretchen Archer, Double Trouble
6/10 Kaye George, Deadly Sweet Tooth
6/17 Annette Dashofy, Til Death
6/24 Adam Meyer

Saturday Guest Bloggers

6/6 Mary Keliikoa
6/13 William Ade
6/20 Liz Milliron

WWK Bloggers:

6/27 Kait Carson
6/30 WWK Writers--What We're Reading Now


Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!

WWK is proud of our four Agatha nominees. Kaye George for Best Short Story--not her first time to be nominated, Connie Berry and Grace Topping for Best First Mystery Novel, and Annette Dashofy for Best Contemporary Novel--her fifth nomination! All are winners but without Agatha Teapots. Onto 20121!

Look for Kaye George and Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Kaye's story is "Life and Death on the Road" and Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.

Kaye George's second novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Deadly Sweet Tooth, was released on June 2. Look for the interview here on June 10.

Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Remembering a Great Poet

On January 29th of this year it was the 50th anniversary of Robert Frost’s death. America’s favorite poet died several months before his 89th birthday. Two years before Frost’s death, John F. Kennedy requested this poet he greatly admired to read one of his poems at his Inauguration. Thus Robert Frost became the first inaugural poet of many to follow including Richard Blanco for Obama’s Inauguration this year. It was a cold, blustery January day when Frost tried to read the introduction he’d written to precede his poem, but he had trouble seeing the words from the glare of the sun and holding on to the papers in the wind. After putting them aside, his voice gained assurance as he recited a poem he’d written two days before Pearl Harbor, “The Gift Outright.” He made one change to the original poem in the last line. Instead of “such as she would become” he changed it to “such as she will become” referring to our land.

Frost is considered a master-poet because his poems worked, not only in cadence but in word choice. He didn’t plan his poems in advance, but believed those that came about unexpectedly in what he termed “a state of grace” were those poems that would succeed.  Another aspect that made him a master-poet to my mind is he wrote poems from personal experience and with a seeming simplicity appealing even to those who don’t regularly read poetry. Many of his poems tell a story like “The Death of the Hired Man,” “Two Tramps in Mud Time,” or “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” – one of his most popular poems and one of his favorites, too.

When I was taking a poetry class as an undergraduate, we were asked to bring in a poem by our favorite author to share with the class and pass out copies of it, too. What a difficult assignment. I had more than one poet I liked, but decided Robert Frost would be at the top of the list.  What poem should I choose out of his hundreds and hundreds of poems? Not something everyone there had heard of.  Robert Frost had been a chicken farmer in his younger years. I had a flock of chickens, too. So I chose “A Blue Ribbon at Amesbury” which turned out to also be one of Robert Frost’s sixteen favorite poems.

On the day I was to read my selected poem, I plucked a Polish hen – one with a feathered topknot – and put her in a cloth book bag and covered her lightly with a towel. For those of you not familiar with chickens and most birds, if you cover them up and make it dark, they become very quiet and subdued.  I sat in an outside row and put the bag with hen on the floor beside me. She stayed quiet and only moved slightly once in a while. When my turn came, I took my hen out and went to the front of the room and placed her on the floor and then handed my copies of the poem  to the other students. Meanwhile, my hen did what any fowl would do in a new environment; she fouled the floor and clucked as she strutted about looking things over. I’d like to say everyone appreciated my reading of this excellent poem, but the truth is they were all laughing so hard (including Professor Hubler) that I don’t think anyone heard a word I said.

A little footnote to this story, another professor, Mary Turzillo, a wonderful poet, came in shortly after I finished reading my Frost poem with several of her poems to share. I don’t remember their titles, but one was a poem about the death of a rooster. This was, of course, a perfect ending to the class that day.

Robert Frost’s accomplishments in his life were many. He published eleven books of poetry, received numerous awards including a Pulitzer. He taught at several colleges including Amherst, University of Michigan, Harvard and Dartmouth. He also went on several good will missions for the U.S. Department of State to England, Ireland and Russia and left behind a wealth of other writings and letters in addition to his much loved poetry.

Who is your favorite poet and what about their poetry appeals to you?


Jim Jackson said...

I’ve read all of Frost’s published poems and consider him my favorite, through truth be told, I don’t read too much poetry. I appreciate his poems because they are accessible to me; they speak to experiences I can at least imagine with references I understand.

I have corrected innumerable people who misquote Frost and say that good fences make good neighbors. It is clear Frost’s narrator does not belief this saying passed down from his neighbor’s father to the neighbor. The narrator makes some fun of the saying before questioning the whole reason for walls.

As with most things in life, I suspect we hear what we want and latch onto those things that agree with our prior thinking.

~ Jim

Mary said...

I so totally agree with you, Jim, on not always understanding what Frost's - or any other poet - message really is. If they had taken the time to really read the ending of the poem "Mending Walls" they would know that isn't what Frost meant at all.

KB Inglee said...

William Blake. His poems range from simple (The Lamb) to so complex you have no idea what he means (Uriel). He had a great sense of humor. It helps that I was married to a Blake scholar. My daughter read The Lamb and The Tyger at his memorial service.

cj petterson said...

I have a friend who took a poetry class taught by Robert Frost. Fenton is in his 90th year and a dear man who recently self-published his own book of poetry. Fen taught me how to appreciate poetry. It's marvelous how beautiful words live on. Thanks for the reminder.

Fellow Guppy Marilyn / cj

carla said...

I also love Blake. I'm also a huge fan of Nikky Finney--what a gifted woman she is.

Yves Fey said...

Too many favorites. Current poet - Mary Oliver, so beautiful and accessible. Keats, haunting and romantic. T.S Eliot for his alchemy of despair and hope. I have favorite poems by Hopkins, Wallace Stevens, Donne--and of course Shakespeare.

E. B. Davis said...

I used to read poetry--not so much anymore, but my favorites include Frost, Sandburg, Davies, Santayana, Whittier, Blake and Whitman. Thanks for the reminder, Gloria.

Alyx Morgan said...

I read Frost's The Road Not Taken in grade school & it's been my favorite ever since.

In high school I took all the English classes I could & studied Dickinson, Whitman, Cummings & a bunch of others, but none of them really stayed with me like Frost's words about choosing a less-traveled path.

Kara Cerise said...

Two of my favorite poets are Maya Angelou (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings) and e.e. cummings (in Just-).

Your blog has inspired me to read more poems and maybe even write one. Thank you, Gloria.

Gloria Alden said...

I'm using my daughter's computer so I was the annoymous who posed earlier before I headed for Alcatraz with my daughter.

K.B., Carla and E.B. I like Blake, too, but haven't read him in years.

Marilyn, how nice to know a poet who knew Robert Frost. If I knew his whole name, I'd check out his book of poetry.

Yves, a nice list of older poets, but I'm not familiar with Mary Oliver. I'll have to check her out.

Alyx, I'm glad you like Frost, too.

Kara, I like Maya Angelou, too. I went to a poetry reading by her at Hiram College once. It was awesome.

Another current favorite poet is Billy Collins. I was so glad to find one of his books of poetry recently in a book store. Many of his poems are quite humorous like one - I can't remember the title now - about reasons for not sitting down to write.